A Simple Favor deals with missing persons, dark secrets, and a complex web of intentions. It’s a mystery that also produces confusion. Following the story is like a task. Then again maybe its goal is to feel like one. But what of the uneven tone. Directed by Paul Feig, who directs Melissa McCarthy movies, it starts with the suggestion of a comedy and then turns to Noir. To its credit, there are likeable performances and chemistry between the leads. Blake Lively is Emily, a stylish single mom with a cruel mind and blunt way of speaking to others. Anna Kendrick is Stephanie who seems a good version of Emily. Amiable , stalwart, but not as fashionable. She runs a vlog about cooking and arts. Their difference triggers a reaction as Stephanie begins to admire Emily and watch her. When Emily invites her to the house for their kids to play together, Stephanie is ecstatic. They share personal stories, develop a bond, and all looks well until one day, Emily disappears.
Jessica Sharzer, who writes the screenplay, reveals these characters in a way that blurs them. There are moments when either one doesn’t seem true to their identity. It works like an intriguing bit of a guessing game. Both have past experiences that have spun them drastically. Emily has certainly got a story to tell. But an issue arises with Kendrick’s performance. As Stephanie , we are challenged to believe her as a woman capable of weak tendencies. Kendrick can act intelligently. But immoral, maybe not. There’s also a detective (Bashir Salahuddin) with a forthcoming approach. And Lively’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) is an English professor whose personality is difficult to read. A Simple Favor works as a movie with unconventional characters and witty dialogue by talented actresses. It’s got an amount of suspense about the situation but the story has one too many folds and turns, that after a while it feels a tad bit too contrived.